Sherry ferry. Have you ever heard a more delightful phrase in your life? A sherry ferry is exactly what the Thames clipper was transformed into when Camino took it over for the launch of the second Camino outpost at Canary Wharf. Much to the surprise and bemusement of the commuters on the ferry, a whole pile of bloggers, journalists and Camino staff boarded the ferry at London Bridge complete with bottles of Tio Pepe dry sherry (£3.50 a glass) and platters of chorizo and Spanish cheeses. Talk about arriving in style!
Octopus tentacle with olive oil mash
All too quickly the ferry pulled up at the dock in Canary Wharf and we were there greeted with a welcome glass of cava to continue on our gourmet odyssey. The new Camino is, like everything in Canary Wharf, pretty new and corporate looking. Despite the fun fooz ball tables, bare brick walls, wooden bar and artfully arranged collections of Spanish products, the whole place does feel a little soulless. Perhaps when it is packed with people there is a different atmosphere.
Richard Bigg, the owner of Camino describes the road trip that inspired him to create the restaurant
Let’s face it though we were there for the food, not the ambience and the food delivered in spades. I can’t speak highly enough of the fried baby squid (£5.75) which was coated in crisp, crunchy batter and a generous dollop of creamy alioli. The grilled fig stuffed with Mahon
cheese and wrapped in ham (£5.50) was an inspired Spanish take on the classic 70’s pigs in blankets. My favourite though of the starters was the arroz negro
or black rice (£6.50) for those of us who are not Spaniards. All inky darkness from the squid ink and topped with a tiny bit of baby squid it was creamy and comforting. This was one of the few dishes served with a sprig of parsley on top after Greedy Diva
was critical of the chef’s penchant for parsley in her review. The power of the blogosphere.
Pimientos de Padron
Probably the most spectacular dish was the huge, wriggly gnarly octopus tentacle (£9.75), curled over a mound of olive oil mashed potato. Even I wasn’t writing a food blog I think I would still be tempted to take a photo of it. It was paired with generous bowls of Pimientos de Padron (£3.50) the small, wrinkly Spanish green peppers that are mild enough except for the one in ten that will burn your mouth off in a sort of pepper Russian roulette.
For the next courses, the huge charcoal grill in the kitchen was put to good use after being fired up a good nine hours prior. It made all the difference to the rib eye steak, a Scottish Mothers Black Gold (£9 for 6 oz) which had been aged for 28 days before the grill was used to create a thick, smoky char on the outside and tender pearly pink interior. Speaking of meat, the most glorious was the Iberico black pig shoulder (£9.50). I was a little nervous as it was cooked medium rare and I am always wary of rare pork but once again the flavour of the charcoal grill was pervasive and the pork was incredibly tender to the point of sharp sweetness. The accompanying wine, Vino del Vero pinot noir (£6.95 a glass), from the exclusively Spanish wine list, was very light with low tannins and a subtle taste that complimented the gutsy food flavours.
We did work our way through almost the entire menu over the course of dinner and the disappointments were few. The grilled onion and red pepper served on crostada (£4.50) was a bit too slimy and sameish in texture and taste and the chicken skewers (£5) could have done with some more spice and seasoning but the faults were few and far between.
For Londoners who live or work in Canary Wharf, Camino is a great addition to the otherwise fairly dull offerings in the area. For the rest of us, if the sherry ferry is running hop on board but otherwise the original Camino in Kings Cross may have a little more personality with the same brilliant food. Keep your eyes peeled for Camino three, which rumour has it is on the way. In the meantime, Camino is offering a free bottle of Cava for everyone to celebrate the opening available by downloading this Cava voucher
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Camino.
Details: 28 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf E14 8RR (Ph 020 7841 7311) Tube: Canary Wharf
Damage: Reasonable – although I did not pay